Cycle Syncing: What to Eat During Each Phase of Your Menstrual Cycle

Learn about the menstrual cycle and how to support your changing nutrition needs.

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Staying active during the menstruation cycle

Hormone fluctuations can make for ever-changing moods and cravings. But when we eat well, we can help satiate our bodies and minds, especially during the different phases of the menstrual cycle. Learn about the menstrual cycle and how to support your changing nutrition needs.

Meet the menstrual cycle

The menstrual cycle is a monthly hormonal rhythm that prepares the female body for pregnancy. It begins on the first day of your period and ends on the first day of your next period. Hormone levels change throughout the cycle and require different energy and nutrient needs (1). The four main stages of the menstrual cycle include menstruation, the follicular phase, ovulation, and the luteal phase.

Follicular phase

The follicular phase starts on the first day of menstruation and ends with ovulation (2). During this phase, the female hormone estrogen is increased, to prepare for the egg to be released. This is the longest part of your menstrual cycle. 

During this phase, you want to support your body in being generally healthy. Key nutrients for overall health are omega-3 and fiber. Omega-3 helps boost mood, maintain cell structure, and supports brain health (3). Fiber keeps things moving through your digestive tract and keeps gut bacteria healthy. It may also help your body prevent PPMS-related symptoms (4). 

  • Omega-3: fatty fish (salmon, tuna, sardines), walnuts, flax seeds, chia seeds.
  • Fiber: whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds.

Menstruation

Menstruation is a woman's monthly bleeding cycle, also known as a period. When we menstruate, our body gets rid of the build-up of the lining of our uterus. Estrogen and progesterone are low during this phase, creating cravings and cramps.

To replenish blood loss, the mineral iron is needed. Magnesium can help reduce cramps and muscle pain. Eating protein and fiber with meals can help improve satiety and curb cravings. But also, enjoy something sweet if you want to after your meals! 

  • Iron: tofu, red meat, beans, nuts, dried fruit, fortified foods.
  • Magnesium: spinach, legumes, nuts, seeds, and yes dark chocolate. 
  • Protein: lean meat, fish and seafood, eggs, dairy, nuts.
  • Fiber: whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds.

Ovulation

Ovulation is the release of the egg from our ovary. This is when estrogen peaks but then drops shortly after. During this phase, we may have lots of energy and feel motivated to do more.

During ovulation, it's best to support sexual function with minerals such as zinc. Zinc plays a critical role in the reproductive system for both males and females. For women, it helps with ovulation and normal pregnancy (5). Vitamin-D acts as a hormone and can help regulate reproduction function.

  • Zinc: poultry, eggs, seafood, beans, nuts, seeds.
  • Vitamin D: oily fish (salmon, sardines, herring), red meat, eggs, fortified foods.

Luteal phase

During the luteal phase, progesterone is at its peak and estrogen is still high, making for some good emotions and energy. In the second half though, if the egg has not yet been fertilized, these hormones start to drop. This is what can bring on premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms such as headache, bloating, cramps, and the works. This is the perfect time to have some mood-boosting healthy fats and energizing and debloating B vitamins.

  • Healthy fats: avocado, olives, nuts, seeds and oily fish.
  • B vitamins: meat, seafood, poultry, eggs beans, nuts and whole grains.

Mindful menstruation

Eating well can support a healthy body and a healthy menstrual cycle. Since everybody is different, it's important to tune into what makes you feel good. If you experience low to moderate PMS, you can help by limiting sugar, alcohol, and processed foods. A nutrition app is a great start! If you experience severe PMS or unusual periods, always consult your physician. 

All of the content and media on Lifesum is created and published for information purposes only. It is not intended to be used as a substitute for medical advice or treatment. Users should always consult with a doctor or other health care professional for medical advice.

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All of the content and media on Lifesum is created and published for information purposes only. It is not intended to be used as a substitute for medical advice or treatment. Users should always consult with a doctor or other health care professional for medical advice. If you have or think you are at risk of developing an eating disorder, do not use the Lifesum app and seek immediate medical help.

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